Cycling for Better Health

Volunteer Jason is recruiting a Guideposts team to cycle the London Revolution: a scenic 156 mile route through and around London, that can be done in either 1 or 2 days.

We talked to Jason about what spurred him to take the challenge, cycling and fundraising.

Jason with his bike at the Guideposts Outdoor Wellbeing Hub for better health

Have you ever done a charity cycle before?

I did my first cycling fundraiser when I was 12, back in the ‘80s! My Dad had done a 2-day sponsored cycle and there was a nice piece about it in the local paper and lots of local support, so I decided that I wanted to do a similar challenge. I had my bike (BMX style, with no gears) and challenged myself to ride 26 miles from our home. We lived in the Scottish Highlands at the time, so those miles were pretty hilly. My Dad cycled with me for a little while, and then left me to complete the route. I got my friends and family to sponsor me, and raised £450. A really good amount – especially for those days!

I didn’t do any cycling then for a long while.  But in 2019 I was looking for a challenge. I had been working on losing weight for a couple of years, and was looking to take on something to help with that. I was living in Oxfordshire by that time, and got excited about a challenge back in the area where I grew up: the Loch Ness Etape, a 66-mile route around the loch with 900m of ascent to climb.  I didn’t have the hilly Scottish landscape to train on in Oxfordshire, so I worked up my fitness on the local roads.

I was really proud of completing the ride in under 5 hours.  My Mum and Dad said they couldn’t believe I’d done it so fast, and on a mountain bike too. I have now got a lighter bike that I will use for the London Revolution! As well as sponsorship, I asked businesses to donate prizes for a quiz and a raffle.  Overall I made £2000 between all the activities.

I was hoping to go for the Lands End to John o’Groats route over the last few years, but there hasn’t been the right opportunity over the pandemic.  That’s still my ambition!

Why do you like cycling?

Jason cycling for better health

I find cycling is really good for my mental health.  I have a borderline emotionally unstable personality disorder. If things have got a bit too much, going for a cycle is a good way to clear my mind and makes life easier.

There have been times when I have had particularly difficult things to deal with – when my Mum died, and when learning about my mental health – so I’d go out on my bike, and it helps to ease the tension and stress. It also helps me to keep my weight in check!

I have seen more of Oxfordshire by cycling in the last few years, than I did living here for 20 years before that. I like riding through small villages and discovering paces that I didn’t know existed. There are so many interesting places that lead you to find out more about the local history.

What do you like about a fundraising challenge?

I love doing things for charity.  Normally I choose the smaller, local charities, who don’t get the limelight and don’t have the resources that the big national charities do.

The cause is really important to me.  I need to believe in it and tell people about the charity when I ask them to donate.  The ride is in a way incidental to telling people about the charity.

I have known of Guideposts for a long time, but when I met Guideposts’ fundraiser Tania through arranging a fundraising concert, we hit it off. I first knew about the learning disability support that Guideposts offers, and then the mental health services. It’s all important work that I want to support.

Reaching a target also makes me happy. I have been pretty successful over the years, but if I don’t reach the target I do get disappointed. Then I look at how much I have been able to raise awareness for a charity that people may not have heard of, and I can be proud of that.

Tell us about your London Revolution training plans

Sidley London Revolution logo

The London Revolution is a good challenge – the route is approachable for anyone, with some training – it’s worth starting early!  I was a novice for the Loch Ness Etape and spent a year training for it.

This year I am already active on my bike. I go out regularly and often include a visit my Dad on rides of about 12-15 miles.  So I have to build up a fair amount by October for the 156 miles (over 2 days) of the London Revolution. I’d like to team up for some training rides if there are others locally who will be taking part.

I don’t know the route yet myself, so I’m looking forward to visiting some new places.  There will be a fair bit of climbing in the North Downs and the Chiltern hills, but if we cycle in small teams we can give each other encouragement along the way and support with slipstreaming. When you have company the miles go so much quicker!

It’s really great with organised rides like this, that the route is really well researched, there are stewards and pit-stops along the way so you are supported there too. They will even help you with your personal training programme. And when you ride for a charity like Guideposts it’s a heavily discounted price, just £44 for the 1-day or £64 for the 2 days including camping and food.

And for the future?

I will continue volunteering, raising money for charities and talking about their causes. I’ve had so much help from people along the way and I really want to give back.

I’m doing a course at the moment on understanding mental health, and I’d like to start a group for people using cycling to help mental health. 

I also still have my ambition to cycle Lands End to John o’Groats – hopefully next year!

Would you be interested in joining Jason on the London Revolution?
Find out how to sign up here: https://guideposts.org.uk/london-revolution/

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